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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 27th day of Collecting, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 143 > Continuing Series > Storm Eyes: Part Fourteen

Storm Eyes: Part Fourteen

by allhailtheprincess

A new day dawned bright upon the northern plains. The camp was a bustle of activity as the army went about its daily preparations.

     Cassie had been up long before the sun discussing things with Isirith. Late the previous night, he and his army of reptiles had once again attacked Pravus's troops. They had caused a great deal of damage because they had attacked during the night, further reducing the number of Pravus's horde. They're was only a small handful of soldiers left to him, and the snakes had found no sign of the Dynin.

      "We think that they will be sssummoned sssoon. The army isss amossst upon usss. I believe that he will bring them when he isss ready to attack." Cassie listened to the snake captain and agreed with his report. She knew next to nothing about the Dynin, but it sounded like they could be summoned at any time. Why would Pravus travel with them if he didn't have to? Isirith's idea made sense.

     The news that the mortals in the enemy army were down to very few was heartening news. The excitement level in the camp was almost enough to launch another wild party, but after hearing the foe was close to the camp, any celebration was postponed.

***

Pravus glared at the pitiful collection of fighters that stood before him. There was less than four dozen of them and Pravus spat disgustedly.

      "If I had been planning to rely on pathetic mortals such as yourselves, I would have been defeated before the battle even started." His black eyes flashed over the small group of motley soldiers. "I have no more need for any of you, but since you survived, I will allow you to fight for me. You feeble scum will not last long out there, but you might as well take a few of the Storm's soldiers down with you."

     The soldiers trembled before their horrible master. "Be gone. I will inform you when we will march. I have to call up my real army now." They bowed and exited as quickly as they were able.

     Pravus grunted in annoyance. The storm had annihilated the majority of his troops, and left him to rely on the Dynin. Not that they were unreliable, but he didn't have control of as many Dynin as he did mortal soldiers.

     He settled back into a chair carved of dark wood and began to chant. The words of ancient evil seemed to hang in the air long after he had spoken them. He spoke in the same harsh guttural language that he had used to bring the Marwolaeth.

     The words in the air almost became tangible and an odd humming seemed to reverberate through them. The ground began to shake and tremble as the humming increased. Pravus's voice rose in pitch until it was a high shriek that tore through the spell laden air.

     He stopped and a silence filled the room where the spell had been before. The silence was broken as a bony arm was thrust through the earth into the thick air occupying Pravus's tent. The arm was followed by a shoulder and then a head. It was the most hideous thing to have ever looked upon the land of Agrestis.

     It was the head of what once might have been a Kougra, but now was the horrible phantasm from a nightmare. Tattered rotting flesh hung from the stained cheek bones in strips. The sunken eye sockets were empty, but not unseeing.

     The other arm was pulled from the ground, and then the rest of the ghastly creature was worked free. Earthen clumps clung to the discolored bones and decaying flesh. It had once been painted Halloween as was evident in the skeletal wings that protruded from between its bare shoulder blades.

     A barely audible whisper issued from the creatures mouth, "You called my lord?"

***

The day had been well spent, and the army was feeling prepared. Cassie felt slightly uneasy but was unwilling to let these feelings drag her down. She smiled as she watched Anshi and Lana spar with wooden spoons.

     Soon, unable to resist the temptation, she grabbed a ladle and joined in. Soon they were joined by Morgan and some of the other younger members of the army. The young Wocky Maputi was furiously brandishing a spatula and fending off attacks made by a whisk wielding Aisha.

     The battle soon escalated into a full fledged war against Cassie, who had proved very good at fencing. Cries of "On guard" and "touché" rose up from the tussle as one creature after another tried to mach 'blades' with Cassie. She laughed wildly as she lunged and parried.

     Soon a pile of kitchen utensils had accumulated and defeated soldiers sat down to watch as Cassie took on their comrades. Maputi tossed his spatula onto the growing pile and plopped down next to Anshi who was doubling up with laughter as he watched Lana and Cassie go at it. Lana soon joined them with a smile and a broken spoon.

     The mound of bent and broken utensils had reached its climax, and now there was a crowd of vanquished soldiers gathered around watching Cassie take on her final opponent. Morgan and Cassie were darting about, quickly jabbing and thrusting at each other. The fight was showing no sign of stopping, and soon bets were being made.

     Cassie's eye shone with the exhilaration of the fight. She inhaled deeply to make up for the lack of oxygen that the fight was causing, and laughed wildly. Her face felt flushed and warm, but she was enjoying every minute of it.

     Morgan was panting as he leapt to one side in order to avoid a swift lunge. He knew that he didn't have much longer to fight. Cassie's boundless energy and sped was too much for him. Still he fought on caught up in the thrill of sparring with some one who was so ebullient.

     The cheering crowed was rewarded with a victor when Morgan became distracted and stumbled. Cassie gave a cry of triumph and pointed her 'sword' at his chest.

      "You are defeated you scurvy dog!" she crowed jubilantly. There was a chorus of cheers and moans as bets were won and lost. After the nights excitement, very few were ready for sleep. It was long after midnight before all had gone to bed.

     The next morning was the negation of its predecessor. Dark storm clouds lay thick in the sky, and the wind whipped through the camp tearing at fur and clothes. Anything that was not weighted or secure was blown away.

     When Cassie stepped out of her tent and saw the sky, she knew the time had come. The battle for Agrestis would commence today. The fate of all would be decided.

     She told this to Dewrder, and he told her he would prepare the troops.

      "You are seldom wrong about these things miss. I will call the men to arms."

     In about an hour's time, the army was ready. They were standing in their ranks on the wind swept field awaiting the evil that would soon come flooding over the land and threaten to drown them. None of them knew, or could have imagined what to expect.

      At the head of the army stood the small, silver Zafara with the Magtile curled around her throat. She faced the fury of the storm and waited for her foe. She could taste her vile presence on the wind, and could feel him creeping closer to her and her troops.

     Images from her most recent dream flashed through her brain, and Cassie wished that it didn't have to come to this. She wished that Pravus had never come to Agrestis, and she wished that the weight of all this didn't have to lie so completely on her solders.

     Shouts brought her out of her thoughts and back to the cold harsh reality. Pravus's army was now in sight and advancing with chilling precision. As they got nearer, it became clear that they were not flesh and blood.

     Cassie's troops fell silent as they stared at the ranks of decaying corpses. Rotting Kougras, Grarrls, Pterii, and other moldering cadavers pressed forward across the grasslands.

     Morgan shuddered as he saw a skeletal Zafara draped in strips of dead flesh. The Dynin were a gruesome and terrifying sight to behold.

     Pravus, unlike Cassie, stood in the center of his army. He was shielded on all sides by rows of his fearsome minions. He laughed at the shocked expressions on the faces of Cassie's army.

      "I told you I would come prepared Caesius. Your day of reckoning has come. We will wipe the land clean of those who oppose us. You and your pathetic army are going to be the first to go." Pravus's eyes gleamed as he looked at the Zafara before him. She stared right back at him with those odd, disconcerting eyes.

     Pravus found himself unable to meet her gaze. He lowered his eyes cursing her with every ounce of hatred he possessed. It mattered not though. Those eyes would never stare at him again after this battle. He would make sure of that himself.

      "I see you are hiding behind your troops. Come out and face me." Cassie stared defiantly at the black Uni in the midst of his dead army. He was obviously angry, but this didn't faze her at all for the time being. He wouldn't be any less ruthless when in a good mood.

      "You seem to have no idea what you are dealing with Caesius," Pravus growled in the direction of the silver Zafara.

      "I disagree. I know perfectly well what I am doing. I am standing up to the cowardly filth that has been terrorizing Agrestis for four months. I think it is you that have no idea what you have gotten yourself into," Cassie retorted brashly.

      "Let's see how brave you are with out your army to back you up," Pravus snarled. He reared up on his back legs and spoke several chilling syllables. There was an earsplitting crack as air rushed in to fill the spaces that had been previously occupied by Cassie and Pravus.

     The two armies looked at each other in shocked silence for a short moment. There captains were gone. Suddenly, the Dynin straightened, and as one looked at their adversaries. They were bond to Pravus and being led by him despite his absence.

     Morgan caught on to this quickly and gave the order.

      "Charge!"

***

Cassie gasped as she landed hard on the ground. She was still in the northern plains, but instead of being at the head of her army where she belonged, she was now on top of a hill that overlooked the two armies. She scrambled to her feet and looked out over the field. Scenes from her dream flooded back into her head, and it was all she could do to keep from crying out.

     A harsh laugh from behind her caused her to whirl around. Pravus stood before her in all his warlord splendor, cape whipping around him in the stormy wind.

     He laughed again and said, "Bet you didn't see that coming. Do you still feel valiant now that you don't have seven hundred soldiers to back you up?" His dark laughter rose up and was lost in a roll of thunder that tore trough the sky.

     Cassie straightened a looked him in the eyes. The surprise at being instantaneously transported to the top of a hill several hundred feet away had not dimmed her fortitude in the least. She too laughed as Pravus was forced to look away for her penetrating stare.

      "Not used to having your victims stand up to you, are you Pravus?" she scoffed. "You are accustomed to being greeted with cries of anguish and fear. You are used to being feared and revered. Well, welcome to the real world. Its time you met someone who won't shy away from your gaze, someone who is willing to fight, and defeat you." Her words made Pravus grind his teeth.

      "We shall see."

***

Morgan was cringed as the clang of steel meeting steel rang through into the cloudy sky. He was forced to lift his sword as a putrid Scorchio swung at him with a cruelly curved scimitar. Its foul rotting breath washed over him in a nauseating wave. The creature's wings were draped with strips of skin that put Morgan in mind of macabre streamers used for decorating.

     He slashed at the fetid beast, but was dismayed to find that his violent hacking was doing no it no harm. Pieces of its rotting flesh flew away from his blade, but the Scorchio seemed not to feel it. His continued assault finally managed to sever on of the Scorchio's bony arms, but this did nothing to deter its progress.

     Others were having similar difficulties. Limbless monsters were still attacking with the same fervor that they had had when whole. Detached limbs were attacking in any way they could.

     While the Dynin could not be killed, Cassie's army was entirely mortal. They felt pain and were affected by the biting steel of blades and spears. Within a short amount of time, once living bodies lay among the scattered bits of discolored bone. The green fields were soon stained with blood.

     Anshi and Lana were fighting side by side against the vile beings. They kept close to each other and watched out for swinging blades or thrusting spears. They were making a considerable dent in the undead army by dismembering the soldiers and making it harder for them to cause damage. This seemed to work fairly well.

     Lana looked around in horror as she fought beside Anshi. She had been raised in the quiet village of Quievi and she had never seen anything as horribly gruesome and dark as this battle. She was appalled at the enemies she was fending off, and the only thing that was keeping her sane was the strong form beside her who kept telling her that they were going to clear the land of these monstrosities once and for all.

     Anshi was having almost as hard of a time dealing with the bloodshed as Lana. The cries of fallen comrades rang in his ears. These were the cries o those whom he had fenced with the night before. Many of them had come from the very village where he had been born. Why did this have to happen?

     As he talked to Lana about getting rid of the Dynin, he clung to his own words and desperately hoped that he would see them come true.

***

Cassie and Pravus fought fiercely with all the talents either one of them possessed. Cassie had a thin light blade that she was using, and Pravus had his axe. The Axe was deadly, but could not be used with speed. Cassie's agility helped her avoid the powerful axe strokes, but her sword was nowhere near as powerful a weapon. Even so, she managed to inflict some wounds on her adversary.

     Pravus seeing that he would be unable to kill the nimble little Zafara decided to try another tactic. He threw aside his sword and sent a surge of power at Cassie. She shuddered and her weapon flew from her grasp and landed sizzling in the grass. She gasped and straightened. The jolt had winded her slightly and she was unprepared for the next attack.

     The bolt struck her in the stomach and she doubled over gasping. Pravus laughed and prepared to send another surge. This was more like what he had had in mind.

***

Dewrder was fighting hard against the impossible foes. They were far worse than he had ever imagined they would be. He was beginning to feel his age as creature after creature advanced on him.

     He had received numerous wounds already, and could feel himself beginning to tire. Refusing to give into fatigue, he battled on against the never ebbing tide of evil. It would be a long day.

     Maputi felt overwhelmed by the sea of blood and rotting creatures. The white Wocky had never been in a real battle before, and was shocked by it. Never before had he witnessed such destruction and decay.

     He screamed as a disembodied hand grabbed his ankle. His fought to get it off, but found it had him firmly in its clutches. He finally managed to wrench it off his leg, but lost a good deal of skin and fur due to its sharp claw like fingers.

     He almost laughed as he tossed it away into the bushes. What would his friends at home think of him now? Brave little Maputi screaming like a little perawan.

     He had always been the brave one. The one willing to try the things that no one else would dare. He climbed the highest trees and explored the deepest parts of the swamp.

     He had feared nothing and found ways to show it every chance his got. It had been no surprise to anyone when he had signed up to help with the army. It was just another crazy way to prove himself. But now he wanted nothing more than to curl up in a corner and hid from this torrent of evil.

     Who could blame him, though? His friends would probably feel the same if they were here. This thought was little consolation though as he watched the rush of darkness flow around him. He fought on, hoping with all his heart that he would live through this to see his safe homeland again.

     Morgan, like Dewrder, was feeling the early signs of exhaustion creep up on him. His tired limbs refused to respond as quickly as he wanted them to. He parried blows more sluggishly than he had done earlier. This lack of energy worried him. He needed to be alert and quick with enemies like these.

     As he was thinking this, a mace appeared as if out of nowhere and caught him in the chest. He flew backwards and landed with a sickening thud on the hard earth. He lay stunned looking into the overcast sky.

     A dark shape obscured his vision and he felt a thrill of terror shoot up his spine. The grotesque figure that stood over him was what once might have been a mighty Lupe, but now was the horrific specter of its former self. The empty eye sockets gleamed with the bloodlust of battle. The grizzly figure seemed to chuckle, and then raised a massive battle axe. Morgan could do nothing but watch in terror.

***

      Cassie wished she could curl up on the grass and lie there until the pain stopped. She knew this would not be wise though so she fought to remain upright and conscious. The only thing that penetrated he pain clouded brain was the maniacal laughter of her evil adversary.

     She realized the fight was lost for her, but was unwilling to accept defeat. Then, with a sudden clarity she knew what had to be done. She though back to the time when she had encountered Pravus in Emrallis, and began to concentrate.

     She concentrated all her energy on the laughter that floated through her mind. She focused her entire being on destroying it and let go. She felt the force hit Pravus full on, and continued forcing everything she could at him. The beating of her heat and the air coming in and out of her lungs fueled it, and even as she poured her life into it, she sensed it was working.

     Pravus was in a state of shock. Every nerve in his body burned with intense pain. It felt as though every inch of his body were bursting with extreme burning light. He screamed, and howled in agony and then blew apart in an explosion of brilliant light.

***

      Morgan saw the axe move towards his chest as if it were in slow motion. He tensed waiting for the searing pain that would accompany the keen blade, but it never came. In a flash of white light, the Dynin fell to the ground as a crumbled heap of bones and the axe thudded into the earth next to his head.

     He sighed and sat up shakily. The hill top to his right was shining with a brilliant light and he knew that Cassie had succeeded. He stood unsteadily up and shouted joyfully up to the cloudy sky.

     Despite his instability, Morgan began to run towards the hill. She had done it! She had beaten Pravus and freed Agrestis from his evil clutches. He struggled up the hill feeling gleeful. It was wonderful to feel free of dread fear for the first time in days.

      "Cassie! Cassie! You did it! You did it!" he panted as he scrambled up the last part of the hill. His words caught in his throat though as he reached the top. The clouds had opened and began poring down torrents of rain on the dry earth, but that was not the cause for his standstill. There, lying in the fresh mud, was a sodden silver form, Unresponsive and unmoving.

To be continued…

Previous Episodes

Storm Eyes: Part One

Storm Eyes: Part Two

Storm Eyes: Part Three

Storm Eyes: Part Four

Storm Eyes: Part Five

Storm Eyes: Part Six

Storm Eyes: Part Seven

Storm Eyes: Part Eight

Storm Eyes: Part Nine

Storm Eyes: Part Ten

Storm Eyes: Part Eleven

Storm Eyes: Part Twelve

Storm Eyes: Part Thirteen

Storm Eyes: Part Fifteen

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